No safety glasses required: Chrysler uses Oculus Rift to give virtual factory tours

Carmakers are finding plenty of creative use for virtual-reality tech. Lexus is using it to let customers take virtual test drives in its RC F super coupe, Mercedes-Benz is using to showcase future interiors, and now Chrysler is using it to transport people to the factory that builds the 200 sedan.

The carmaker from Auburn Hills is launching an Oculus Rift “experience” at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show that will allow patrons to take a virtual factory tour.

It’s an outgrowth of the online factory tour Chrysler recently launched using Google Maps Business View. Through the tour website, you can walk the assembly line at the Sterling Heights (Michigan) assembly plant, or sit inside a 200 chassis as it gets welded together by robots.

To top that, Chrysler will use Oculus Rift Development Kit 2 headsets to give people sitting inside a 200 an exploded view of the car, explaining all of the components. Presumably, the car is stationary during all of this.

The user gets a moment to look at each area, then the “world” shifts to three areas of the Sterling Heights plant – the Metrology Center, Body Shop, and Paint area – viewed from the perspective of a car moving through each stage of assembly.

It sounds like a very mechanistic LSD trip, and might be worth checking out if you find yourself in L.A. this week. It’s a rare opportunity to peek behind the curtain and see the complex assembly process modern cars undergo.